Today we begin the countdown to our Top 5 most viewed articles in 2023. Number 5 goes to Rossleigh for this piece from October:
The Strange Case Of Senator Jacinta Nampijinpa Price
Politics is a strange game…
Now, I realise a lot of people are going to tell me that it’s not a game and that political decisions have real and profound impacts on people and calling it a game is offensive… which is why I added the word strange.
I don’t want to use the words “Canberra bubble” because it suggests that it’s confined to one city and that it could be popped at any time by a simple prick. And if that last point were true then it would have been popped a long time ago, even before Scott Morrison became PM.
Part of the trouble is that people who focus on politics all the time start to resemble elite sports people and commentators where they forget that what they’re doing is only a game and that most people have more important things to do, even if they do check the results from time to time. While the player who missed that simple shot may feel a whole range of emotions and the people who analyse his miss may wonder about his fitness as a human being, most people – apart from the diehard fans – will shrug and say, “Well it’s not like he killed someone.” In fact, if he had killed someone the commentary around it may be less critical and certainly less sustained.
So when it comes to politics, there’s a tendency from some to burrow down and look deeply into various moments, completely overlooking the fact that the electorate is made up of millions of people who all have different reasons for why they voted the way they did… even when they vote for the same party. For example, I’ve often made the point that the infamous handshake where Mark Latham aggressively shook John Howard’s hand was explained by many as the moment that lost Labor the election. It makes for a convenient narrative, but it would also have worked as a narrative that this was the moment when the young bull shows that he has more strength than the old bull who is past his used by date. The only trouble with that is that Latham lost and Howard won. Has anyone ever heard anyone say that they were going to vote for Labor until that moment but that the handshake changed their mind?
And so, this week after the Voice Referendum we return to politics because the Voice shouldn’t have been about politics but apparently Labor made it about politics because they didn’t get a consensus from the Coalition who didn’t want them to have a successful referendum. Now, I am aware that there’s so much to unpack from what happened that I think it’ll take several pages of newsprint and lots of opinion pieces and I don’t want to say anything intelligent at this point because – in the interests of balance – if I do say anything like that, then some broadcaster will find it necessary to give someone’s nonsensical conspiracy theory equal time.
Of course, one of the criticisms made of Albanese by the Opposition is that he’s been obsessed with the Voice and done nothing about the cost-of-living pressures facing ordinary Australians… I don’t know why you have to be “ordinary” to get some attention from the Coalition. Ok, they don’t like elites if they come from the inner city but most of the time the Liberal Party are telling us that we should be “aspirational” or “successful” and if we’re not, then we should just “get a better job”, as Joe Hockey once told us.
So, it does seem strange to me that the week after the Voice was defeated that the Coalition should turn their attention to pushing for a Royal Commission and an audit of spending rather than talking about the cost-of-living issues. I mean, is this an attempt to keep the Labor government talking about Indigenous issues so that the Opposition can say that they should be talking about something else? Or is it just that they feel like there are more votes to be won from Pauline Hanson’s supporters? Or is Peter Dutton just as stupid as the person who asked if Jacinta Nampijinpa Price should run for PM?
To be clear here, I’m not suggesting that person who suggested that she run for PM is stupid because I disagree with her politics; I’m suggesting that there are several problems that are functional:
- She’s a senator and would need to find a House of Representatives seat. (Not impossible but would take time.)
- She’s a National Party member, so she’d have to switch to the Liberals. (Again not impossible but it would need to worked out so that the Nationals didn’t get upset.)
- She’s a woman and she’d have problems in the Liberals with the Big Swinging Dicks club. (Although they may not be swinging as wildly now they’re in Opposition.)
- And, of course, the obvious point that nobody “runs for PM”. They become leader of their party and – if their party gets enough House of Representative seats to form government, their party appoints the PM.
Now when it comes to her performance, we have a whole strange series of alternative facts here. While it may seem like just getting media attention is the name of the game when you’re not in power, the fact remains that Pauline has managed to get media attention since last century but she’s still a long way from forming government and some of the comments Senator Price have made don’t make your average voter think that she has a strong grip on what needs to be done. Her attacks on the AEC and her comments on how great colonisation was are the sort of things that make the daily news, but they don’t make most people immediately go: “Wow, there’s a future leader!” And it begs the question, “What’s wrong with the current Liberal talent that you have to go outside the party and outside the House of Reps to find a worthy candidate?”
So in answer to the question that a newspaper recently asked, “Should Jacinta Nampijinpa Price run for PM?”, I’d merely say: I don’t know, so I’ll say no.
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